Report card: New England Patriots

Here are the grades from the New England Patriots’ 23-14 win over the San Diego Chargers:

Quarterback: Tom Brady was far from perfect, but a lot of his issues are on the offensive line, especially Nate Solder’s struggles at protecting Brady’s blind side. Brady didn’t look comfortable, particularly in the third quarter. His interception was a poor decision even with Gronkowski open as he was throwing off his back foot with pressure. In the end, Brady was Brady and he delivered a win for the Patriots. Grade: B+

Running back: Early on, the Patriots looked poised for a big game on the ground as LeGarrette Blount showed his exceptional balance and power to break tackles and make plays. Then the Chargers shored up the defensive front and the Patriots opted to pass the football. It seemed like Jonas Gray would have been a fit to run against the Chargers at times instead of Blount. A mere 28 carries for 87 yards (3.1 yards per carry) just isn’t good enough against the Chargers’ front seven. Grade: C+

Wide receiver: Hats off to Julian Edelman. Edelman was a true workhorse as he hauled in eight catches for 141 yards and the play of the game, a 69-yard touchdown to give the Patriots a comfortable 23-14 lead. He also took hits while still battling through a thigh injury. Brandon LaFell’s fumble hurt, but he also had a couple of nice plays. Grade: A-

Tight end: Rob Gronkowski didn’t have a signature play where he tossed off four-plus defenders or make anyone look silly. But eight catches for 87 yards and a great touchdown grab on a mismatch with Brandon Flowers capped off another solid night for Brady’s big target. Grade: A-

Offensive line: Nate Solder struggled all night with Melvin Ingram and Dwight Freeney. He kept getting spun around, needed extra help from Dan Connolly and ultimately couldn’t contain Brady’s blind side. Some credit goes to the Chargers, but Solder clearly had a rough game. The early run gaps were big enough, but that ended quickly. The offensive line struggled to establish the line of scrimmage and it almost cost the Patriots a win. Grade: C-

Defensive line/linebacker: With Dont’a Hightower out, Jamie Collins donned the communication helmet and took on lead duties. He shined in that role. Collins had two big sacks and was everywhere on the field to make plays. Between Collins’ impressive performance, Jonathan Casillas’ consistent play in a major role, Akeem Ayers (interception) and Rob Ninkovich’s edge play and the run defense up front, this group strung together a great game when there were some definite questions coming in. Grade: A+

Defensive backs: The secondary had an outstanding performance. The Patriots’ best defensive player, Darrelle Revis, is at the top of his game. He’s a true treat to watch as he shut down Keenan Allen. Tavon Wilson also made some good plays in limited work. The only down for the Patriots’ secondary was Kyle Arrington’s tripping penalty and him missing a tackle on Donald Brown. It’s hard to lower the grade for Brandon Browner’s helmet-to-helmet penalty, as the hit actually was with the shoulder. Grade: A

Special teams: There’s a reason Brandon Bolden is on the Patriots roster, and it’s all about his special teams play. He is consistent and can serve up a big play when the team needs one. Bolden delivered with a blocked punt that was a huge momentum swing for the Patriots. Brian Tyms provided the Patriots with nice coverage on a punt and Matthew Slater is poised for another Pro Bowl appearance. Grade: A

Coaching: The run commitment looked strong early on, but the Patriots abandoned it. The decision to twice go run-pass-pass in the red zone clearly didn’t work out as the Patriots came away with field goals. Some of the offensive play-calling was a little cute at times, especially as the Patriots have the ability to run the football. But Bill Belichick is always good for at least one gem as Sunday's came on a decision to have Danny Amendola as a short return man when Nick Novak had to punt for the Chargers (his first punt since high school). It set up a short field. Grade: B